Why is word formation so important in IELTS?
Word formation is important in ALL PARTS of the IELTS Test because:
- It helps you express yourself more clearly and precisely in your SPEAKING TEST.
- It allows you to use more sophisticated/academic expressions a wider range of vocabulary in the WRITING TEST.
- In the LISTENING TEST, you are specifically tested on your spelling of different forms, especially irregular ones.
- An understanding of different forms will help you speed up in the READING TEST and guess meaning from context (see example below).
How to build word formation skills
- Every time you learn a new word, write down the different forms (see the Reading example below)
- Keep a notebook specifically for vocabulary.
- Write the forms in full sentences (use a good learner dictionary to help you).
- Colour-code any irregular spelling changes.
- Check the pronunciation! Use an online learner dictionary, and learn how they mark syllable stress. Syllable stress often moves in different forms e.g. /ˈfəʊtəɡrɑːf/fəˈtɒɡrəfə/ [photograph/photographer]
- Say the words aloud and repeat them regularly – record them on your phone if you can
- Use the Academic Word List
- Get my Complete Guide to IELTS Word Formation
How reading helps with word formation
This is an IELTS-related Reading about the electrification of a road in Sweden.
You can easily guess what the article will be about because you know the word ‘electric‘.
If you learn word forms, you will be able to recognise ‘electrify‘ as a verb (like simplify or modify) and I’m sure you’ve seen its noun form in other words (like simplification or modification). So this will help you work out the word from context.
Make sure that you write down word forms like this when you’re reading.
Also, think about how this can help your writing.
The title of the article is:
‘World’s first electrified road for charging vehicles opens in Sweden’
So what does it mean? What do you think? Choose one of the sentences below:
- Sweden has made a road which can charge electric cars.
- Sweden has made a road which can produce electricity to charge cars.
- Sweden has electrified a road so that it can charge cars.
- Sweden has installed its first electrified road for charging cars.
- The electrification of a road in Sweden allows electric cars to recharge.
You’re right! They all mean the same thing! But which one sounds better?
‘Electric/electricity’ are quite simple words that are probably similar in your language or you learn them when you are a Beginner. So using these words correctly might get you a Band 5/6 in your Writing.
However ‘electrify/electrified’ are far less common and more sophisticated – closer to a Band 6 or 7.
And if you use ‘electrification’ in a Task 2 essay about the solution to pollution in towns, I’m pretty sure you’d get an 8 for vocabulary range, precision and flexibility.
Example 1: The Reading Test
Annual figures for the Arctic, where tourism has existed since the 19th century, have increased from about a million in the early 1990s to more than 1.5 million today. This is partly because of the lengthening summer season brought about by climate change.
Tourism has expanded in the Arctic because the 1. ______________ lasts longer than it used to.
Tourism has expanded in the Arctic because the 1. summer season lasts longer than it used to.
- long (adjective)
- length (noun)
- to lengthen (verb – to make something longer)
- lengthening (adjective – something which is getting longer)
Practice Word Formation
This quiz practices a set of irregular verbs taken from the Word Formation booklet.
Adjective – Noun – Verb
- long – length – lengthen
- strong- strength – strengthen
- deep – depth- deepen
- wide – width – widen
- broad – breadth – broaden
- high – height – heighten
- weak – weakness – weaken
- short – shortage – shorten
- low – (no noun form) – lower
- large – (no noun form) – enlarge
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